Saturday, 27 August 2011

Ribble Pilot, Mariners Way, Preston

A group of friends and I once decided to pop into the Ribble Pilot for a quick pint before seeing a film at the Odeon.
It was one of those bad decisions which don’t have any bearing on your life whatsoever, but you rue them as if they had sent you into a spiral of decline.
Firstly the pub was awful. Tired, dreary, run-down and outdated, the bar maid chuntered her way through a quiz to a handful of disinterested drinkers, interspersed with lengthy breaks for great bails of tumble weed to roll on through.
My second regret was needing the toilet throughout the film.
But several months ago the Ribble Pilot, which is part of the ‘Two For One’ chain, closed for a long overdue refurbishment.
I expected a lick of paint and perhaps a new carpet but they really went all out with a major overhaul and extension.
Inside, the pub is now brighter and cleaner as you would expect, but the overriding first impression was how much bigger it seemed. A seemingly small extension onto the side has made a huge difference.
But I was more pleased with what the pub had done with the land surrounding it.
When I first moved to Preston I was really surprised more had not been made of the waterfront bar potential of Preston Dock.
It seemed to be crying out for a line of pubs, bars and restaurants charging over the odds for the same thing you can get in the city centre, except without the view – like Cardiff Bay.
Now at least the Ribble Pilot has cottoned on to this with extensive grassed seating areas around the pub, including a pergola and kids’ play area.
It may be hemmed into the corner of a retail park but it is a start.
Miss Chardonnay sidekick and I decided since we were popping in, early evening on a Friday, we would stay for tea.
So, with our beer garden waterside view secured (though thankfully not too close because the water is a bit green at the moment) we had a meal to welcome in the weekend.
Scanning the customers, I was surprised how many groups of young people were doing the same thing.
 Clearly dressed up for a night out, they were starting in the Ribble Pilot for a cheap dinner before heading out for a night on the tiles.
This certainly would not have happened a year ago.
The pub was also very busy which offers hope for The Waterfront pub which is currently closed but undergoing a major refurbishment.
It was recently damaged by fire but if they do a good job on the re-fit, it seems there is the customer-base to make it work.

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